But as we approach the holiday season, there’s been something of a stealth-influx of upcoming games for Sony’s little handheld that could. With so many people maligning the Vita’s perceived lack of content, you’d think that more of these games would be receiving an extra push for attention from Sony. Nevertheless, we’re here to help you determine which Vita games are right for you this fall.
Release Date: Available Now
This is, without a doubt, the definitive LittleBigPlanet experience. LittleBigPlanet Vita combines the best elements of the PS3 and PSP games while adding its own new and exciting features. User created levels can be streamed over the internet — just like on the console games — but they can also be downloaded for future play sessions in areas without wifi.
The Vita game also sports features new to the LBP franchise, such as allowing progress in user-generated levels to be saved, using the touchscreen for level creation and recording dialogue using the system’s built-in microphone.
And like all past games in the franchise, the replay value here is literally endless. There are already quite a few amazing player-made levels out there just waiting to be discovered, and if the previous games are any indication there will be a whole lot more to come.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Release Date: Oct. 30
This one surprised even me when it was first announced. This is the next game in the Need for Speed franchise, as well as the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise from the Burnout developers themselves, Criterion. And it’s actually coming to a handheld.
No, I mean it. This isn’t supposed to be some downsized version of the console game brought to you by an outside development studio. Criterion is developing this one personally and they’ve promised that every car, every street and every feature will be nearly identical to the PS3 and 360 versions.
From what’s been shown around press events, they’ve pretty much nailed it. The only major difference seems to be a 4-player multiplayer cap. Criterion has also admitted that the game doesn’t look quite as good, but the game’s screenshots look absolutely smashing, regardless.
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified
Release Date: November 2012
Okay, so this is a Call of Duty game, and it is on a handheld. However, it’s also being developed by Nihilistic, the development house behind the much-maligned Resistance: Burning Skies.
But the truth of the matter is that Resistance fans and Call of Duty fans aren’t usually looking for the same things when they boot up their preferred shooters. While Burning Skies’ story and characters were a hot mess, the game played absolutely fine. Good, even.
I’m willing to be that the average Call of Duty fan will have absolutely no problem with Declassified when it drops later this year. That’s doubly true if Nihilistic manages to bring in some new tricks that they may have learned on their last run.
Release Date: October 2012
Dokuro might just be a sleeper hit for the Vita. The game blends old-school action and storytelling with its own new, Vita-based gimmicks to provide an experience that looks very unique.
You play as the typical hero trying to defend and rescue a princess from the clutches of evil. The catch is that the aforementioned hero is already dead.
You’ll have to make your way through this 2D, side-scrolling adventure switching between a living form — in which you can carry the princess and lethally kill your enemies — and your dead form — in which the princess is left on her own and enemies can only be stunned by your weapon. However, your dead form allows you to use magical chalk with the Vita’s touchscreen to manipulate the environment and solve puzzles.
If Ico meets Okami in 2D sounds appealing to you, then you’ll definitely want to give this neat little game a look.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Release Date: Oct. 16
At first blush, this doesn’t look like much of a Silent Hill game. In fact, I’m still not entirely convinced that it started out as one. However, if you’re willing to set aside your preconceptions of what an entry in a franchise ‘has’ to be about, you might find a pretty good game here.
While fan reaction has been less than positive thanks to the game’s focus on role-playing elements and dungeon crawling gameplay, word from critics has been surprisingly positive. Book of Memories is also being developed by WayForward, which should earn it some benefit of the doubt.
There’s also a demo up on the PSN right now, so you can try the game for yourself and see if it’s your thing.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD
Release Date: “Mid-November” 2012
This one is definitely more of a known-quantity than some of the other games on this list.
Originally released on the first Xbox, Stranger’s Wrath has since been re-released on PC, Playstation 3 and again on PC (the second times in full, HD glory).
If you haven’t played Stranger’s Wrath yet, you probably already know that you don’t want to. However, if you’re still not sure if Stranger’s Wrath is right for you, I have to imagine that those olden time graphics will look pretty good in their HD skin on that beautiful Vita screen.
Jet Set Radio HD
Release Date: Oct. 16
Jet Set Radio doesn’t really hold up all that well in the gameplay department. However, those cel shaded graphics look awfully spiffy in high definition and the game’s soundtrack holds up just fine.
If you’re looking for a shot of nostalgia, or you really do think that Jet Set Radio still plays well in 2012, by all means, grab it for your Vita. At least if you get frustrated you can always put the game on hold on the Vita version. And hey, it’s cheap!
Persona 4: Golden
Release Date: Nov. 20
Vita owning JRPG fans won’t be left out in the cold come winter this year. Persona 4: Golden, perhaps one of the greatest role-playing games of all-time, is finally making its way to the handheld.
This is basically the same game as the original, Playstation 2 version with a few added odds and ends, like the ability to travel out at night and additional side content. However, the best part is simply being able to take this amazing (and amazingly long) RPG with you whenever, wherever. Fans of the game should be excited about the new content, while those wanting to solve the mystery of the Midnight Channel for the first time will be getting the game at its best.
Assassin’s Creed: Liberation
Release Date: Oct. 30
Handheld Assassin’s Creed games have traditionally been pretty bland. Shoehorned controls and insufficient processing power to handle the franchise’s trademark open worlds have led to experiences that just don’t feel like Assassin’s Creed.
Luckily, the Vita is much more powerful than any handheld gaming device before it, and dual analog sticks allow for proper, portable controls. Meanwhile, a black woman at the turn of the Revolutionary War in New Orleans lays the groundwork for an incredibly interesting protagonist and story, if handled correctly.
It’s doubtful that Liberation will be as impressive as its console counterpart, but it has plenty of potential to carve out its own path this month.
Retro City Rampage
Release Date: Oct. 9
While Retro City Rampage looks like a very cool retro throwback regardless of what it’s being played on, the Vita version may just be the one to get.
Not only does it feature cross-play with the Playstation 3 version, but it also features a few Vita-exclusive odds and ends; such as visual filters that make the game look like a Virtual Boy or Game Boy title and the ability to navigate menus entirely with the touchscreen (you can still use the buttons, if you’re so inclined).
Street Fighter X Tekken
Release Date: Oct. 25
Between Mortal Kombat, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and now Street Fighter X Tekken, the Vita is becoming a haven for portable fighting games.
Street Fighter X Tekken on the Playstation 3 was already the definitive version, with more online functionality and exclusive characters that 360 players just didn’t get. However, if you already own the PS3 title, all of the console game’s DLC transfers over to the handheld game. So, if you’ve already paid for new characters once, you don’t have to do so again just to take them on the go.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
Release Date: Oct. 23
You wouldn’t know it just from the title, but Zero Escape is actually the direct sequel to the critically acclaimed visual novel, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors released for the Nintendo DS a few years back.
It’s basically a much more interesting take on the concept of choose-your-own-adventure novels, with a few puzzle elements thrown in from time to time. The game has already been out in Japan for a while now, and has been received very well by the local critics.
A 3DS version is also scheduled, but the Vita’s big, beautiful screen might make this version the better of the two.
Release Date: October 2012
This is another title that’s been out in Japan for a while, but it’s finally coming to North America this month.
The first thing that stands out about the game is that it’s pretty. Very pretty, if you ask me. The second thing is that it looks a whole lot like Monster Hunter with giants instead of dinosaurs.
The game seems to be based around the killing of said giants, collecting their loot and then getting better at killing more giants. You can pick a class at the start of the game, but you’re not stuck with it. Switching through different sets of clothing seems to reset your character class. So if you decide you don’t like smashing things with hammers, you can always switch to blasting them with magic.
It certainly looks interesting, though it clearly hasn’t taken off in the same big, bad way in Japan that Monster Hunter has. We’ll find out if that matters to American audiences when the game comes out.
Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale
Release Date: Nov. 20
While Nintendo seems reticent about making Super Smash Bros. games on their own handhelds, Sony has no such qualms about putting their own brawler on the Vita.
If you decide to purchase Playstation All-Stars on the PS3, you’ll be getting a copy of the Vita version regardless. However, it’s important to note that regardless of what system you’re playing on, you’re basically getting the same experience. Both versions feature all of the same characters, modes and functionality. Additionally, anyone playing online on the Vita will be able to compete with players on the Playstation 3, and vice versa.
If you’re looking for a competitive, cross-over brawler on a handheld… well, Playstation All-Stars is pretty much your only option. Regardless, the game will likely be pretty fun and the word from those who have tried it for an extended period of time seem to be enjoying it just fine.